In episode 29, Liz, Ben and guest Fury join Rincewind on a journey to a strangely familiar land in Pratchett’s 1992 loving Discworld parody of Australia, The Last Continent. (A quick content note: this one has more swearing than usual, but we bleeped the c-bombs out.)
The Librarian of Unseen University, long ago turned into an orang utan, is suffering from a magical illness. Archchancellor Ridcully and his faculty could help him – if only they knew his original human name. Unfortunately the only person likely to remember is former Assistant Librarian Rincewind, and the wizards sent him to Agatea – and then accidentally propelled him across the Disc. He ended up in XXXX – aka Fourecks, aka the Last Continent, aka “that place far away full of deadly animals” – but he’s managed to survive. The locals out in the desert seem friendly enough, at least until he asks when it will rain. But something isn’t right. The land needs a hero. What it’s got is the Eternal Coward…
Pratchett came to Australia many times, and his experience of the country seems to have rubbed off. Fourecks affectionately parodies Australian music, slang, politics and culture, including Mad Max, The Man From Snowy River, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, thongs, corks on hats, the cultural cringe, Vegemite, pie floaters and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. It’s quite the ride for the Australian reader… Rincewind is moulded into the stereotypical “bush hero”, but his touchstones aren’t entirely post-invasion – Pratchett also tries for a nuanced and deep Discworld interpretation of Aboriginal culture and beliefs, even if he doesn’t include any actual Aboriginal characters. Do you think he makes it work? Could you follow all the Australian references? Is there enough of a plot, or is it just an excuse for a bunch of jokes? Use the hashtag #Pratchat29 on social media to join the conversation!
Guest Fury is a writer, illustrator and performer who previously appeared on Pratchat in episode 19, discussing Soul Music. They were recently seen in Gender Euphoria, a touring multi-disciplinary show celebrating trans experiences which has played in Melbourne and Sydney. Fury’s book I Don’t Understand How Emotions Work is available online now. You can also find out more about them at their web site furywrites.com, or follow them on Twitter as @fury_writes.
Next month’s episode was going to cover Pratchett’s 2012 sci-fi collaboration with Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth, but we’ve had a change of plan! Instead, we’ll be taking a month off from book discussion to answer your questions about how to get into Pratchett, about past episodes, and about his work in general. Listen out for a special announcement with more information, and get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat30 by April 3rd.
You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.
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